Libertarianism is about strong, rigid principles; stances which are concrete and which stand on the firm philosophical foundations which have stood since the enlightenment. Clearly, however, this rigidness does not always allow for electoral success.
So the question comes down to, should the libertarian party bend the message to attract the political refugees, or shall we stand firm even if that means continual failure?
I have mentioned before that when becoming a libertarian, you make a very reasonable compromise: you may practice and believe what you want personally, but never demand to have those values enforced on others.
However there are some issues that fall in a sort of grey area, issues which, if not addressed, may affect us all.
Borders and immigration policies are a prime example of one of these grey area issues. It seems that conservatives are very interested in libertarianism until we reach the issues of borders. Apparently, to “have a country” it must have borders; and according to a few it must be walled up and controlled in the style of the Berlin Wall.
As for myself, I believe in open borders; in the scheme of things the lines drawn by politicians are pointless and illegitimate. Besides, controlled borders are contradictory to free-market ideals and after all, does the open border between Oklahoma and it’s neighbors make Oklahoma any less of a state?
But this is not the point of my article here. I think there is a way to find a compromise, if only temporary so as to please those that think a border is essential and those, like myself, who believe philosophically in open borders.
Think what you will about Austin Petersen, he had a good point when he mentioned an Ellis Island style immigration system, which is an open door in effect, but still offers some form of safeguard and filter. An immigrant goes through, spends a few hours getting checked and receiving documents and once it is done, it is done. It is not a decade long process.
We should, for the time being, be demanding immigration reform: shrinking the time it takes to become a ‘citizen’ of the United States from years to only hours. This will be a sure way of encouraging legal immigration, if that is your goal.
But in advocating for such a thing, I am not compromising my principles: I still believe in open borders. But I feel comfortable advocating a reform which brings us closer to that goal. Certainly such a position will be more attractive to political refugees than just calling them names if they don’t fall in line. (After all, one does not have to be a libertarian in order to vote for libertarian candidates in general elections!)
I am further confident that with some good faith discussion rather than debate, we can start to form a temporary coalition and find a common ground regarding these grey area issues, as we weather the 2016 storm.
It is worth noting that our victory as libertarians in this election is not winning offices (although that would be an immense victory) but rather, it is simply to meet the 2.5% threshold to retain ballot access and to be noticed. This will be enough for now.